You’ve probably heard phrases like brand, branding and brand identity being bandied around, but what do they all mean and are they actually that important?
In the simplest terms, your brand (or branding) is what differentiates you from your competitors and helps customers form perceptions of your company.
It’s your purpose, positioning and personality. It’s how you look and sound – the image you portray to everyone who interacts with your company.
Brand identity refers to the visual and verbal representation of your business – the elements that make you distinguishable. Things like your company name, logo, colours, taglines and slogans. Good examples include the instantly recognisable golden arches of McDonald’s or Nike’s well-known “Just Do It” slogan.
But creating a strong brand identity is about far more than just coming up with a snappy slogan or getting a pretty logo. It’s not just about looking and sounding good. It’s about creating the right impression.
What are the benefits of having a strong brand?
Take any big-name company – Rolex, Prada, McDonald’s, Apple, Amazon. Even if you’ve never bought from them, you probably know what to expect.
Luxury. Quality. Fun. Value. Innovation. Speed. Convenience. Sustainability.
That’s the power of a strong brand. When people hear your company name, they automatically associate you with certain words, values or features.
Benefit 1 – Help customers understand who you are and what you do
People have busy lives, so they want information quickly. When people are scrolling through social media, see your company van drive past or spot your company name on a billboard, they shouldn’t have to work hard to understand what you do.
Calling your company “Bob’s” doesn’t tell customers what you offer. Calling it “Bob’s Building Services” makes things far clearer.
Logos work in a similar way. A logo with a paw print on it would suggest a business that has something to do with animals – a dog walker or a pet shop, for example – rather than a roofing company or software developer.
We even associate certain colours, fonts and packaging styles with specific products or services.
Benefit 2 – Stand out from your competitors
What makes one product stand out from another? Why do we buy certain brands and not others? What appeals to us about one company or puts us off doing business with their competitor?
Quite often, it comes down to branding.
How often have you bought something just because the packaging caught your eye? Have you ever chosen a restaurant based on how it looks from the outside? Have you ever opted for the slightly more expensive option because it’s from a brand you’ve heard of?
If you look and sound different, offer something different or position yourself in a unique way, you’re going to stand out from your competitors.
Benefit 3 – Attract the right type of customer (and repel the wrong ones)
Good branding isn’t just about attracting the right type of customer or client – it’s about filtering out the wrong type too.
You don’t want to attract lots of budget-conscious consumers if your pricing is at the top end of your market because you’ll end up wasting your time fielding enquiries that you’ll never convert.
And that’s where your brand identity can help. Your company name, straplines, taglines and logo, the images you use, and your company colours can help customers decide whether you are the right fit.
If your company is called “Luxury Beds”, you’ll filter out people who are looking for cheap and cheerful products because most people understand that luxury comes with a higher price tag. If you’re called “Bargain Beds”, you’ll probably get more people shopping on a budget.
Benefit 4 – Charge premium prices
Customers are often willing to pay more for a product or service they perceive to be of higher quality.
A handbag from Primark does the same job as a handbag from Louis Vuitton or Gucci, but the price tags are significantly different. That’s because people don’t buy designer bags for functionality alone. They buy them because they perceive them to be high-quality and because owning a designer handbag is a status symbol.
This isn’t limited to bags – it applies to clothes, shoes, cars and all kinds of products and services. People buy certain brands because they believe those brands indicate success, wealth or just good taste.
An effective brand identity can help you convey a sense of exclusivity and luxury so you can command a premium price for your products or services.
Is branding important for small businesses?
Brand identity isn’t limited to big companies. Your company name and logo might never become household names, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t important. They can still give customers the right (or wrong) impression of you.
If you’re a new company, you don’t need to invest hundreds of thousands of pounds into a complete brand strategy, logo, images, straplines, artwork, or website on day one. But it’s worth thinking about how you want your brand to be perceived so you can start off on the right track.
If you’re already operating as a business but aren’t attracting the right type of customers, looking at your marketing and branding will help you understand where improvements need to be made.
And if your business feels like it’s going in completely the wrong direction, a rebrand can help you refresh and revitalise your brand and improve customer perception.
But before you rush into any decisions about branding, it’s important to understand that your brand identity is only one aspect of your marketing. You can have the best company name and logo in the world, but it won’t make a difference if you aren’t getting in front of the right people.
All our services are designed to help you generate a return on your marketing investments. So if you aren’t sure where to start with your branding or marketing, get in touch and let us help you get results.
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